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Enlarged lymph glands under arm: Symptoms, causes, stages, types, and more

Symptoms, causes, stages, types, and more

Breast cancer is an invasive cancer. The main cause of breast cancer is genetic mutation or damage to a person’s DNA.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Advances in screening and treatment for breast cancer have improved survival rates dramatically. Overall, the rate of breast cancer declined by about 40% between 1989 and 2017.

A 2019 study showed, however, that the rate in the United States may no longer be declining in women aged 20–39 years.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that:

  • There are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • The chance of dying from breast cancer is around 1 in 38 (2.6%).
  • About 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed by the end of 2021
  • About 43,600 deaths from breast cancer are likely to occur by the end of 2021

Awareness of the symptoms and the need for screening is key in reducing the risk of mortality.

In rare instances, breast cancer can also affect males. This article will focus on breast cancer in females.

Learn about breast cancer in males here.

The first symptom of breast cancer is usually an area of thickened tissue in the breast or a lump in the breast or an armpit.

Other symptoms include:

  • armpit or breast pain does not change with the monthly cycle
  • pitting, like the surface of an orange, or color changes such as redness in the skin of the breast
  • a rash around or on one nipple
  • discharge from a nipple, which may contain blood
  • a sunken or inverted nipple
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast
  • peeling, flaking, or scaling of the skin of the breast or nipple

Most breast lumps are not cancerous. However, anyone who notices a breast lump should have it checked by a healthcare professional.

A lump or a mass in the breast is often one of the first signs of breast cancer. In many cases, these lumps are painless. A person may experience pain in the nipple or breast area that appears to be tied to their menstrual cycle.

Pain caused by breast cancer is typically gradual. Anyone who experiences breast pain, especially if it is severe or persistent, should consult a healthcare professional.

After puberty, a female’s breasts are made up of fat, connective tissue, and thousands of lobules. These are tiny glands that can produce milk. Tiny tubes, or ducts, carry the milk toward the nipple.

Breast cancer develops as a result of genetic mutations or damage to DNA. These can be associated with exposure to estrogen, inherited genetic defects, or inherited genes that can cause cancer, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

When a person is healthy, their immune system attacks any abnormal DNA or growths. When a person has cancer, this does not happen.

As a result, cells within breast tissue begin to multiply uncontrollably, and they do not die as usual. This excessive cell growth forms a tumor that deprives surrounding cells of nutrients and energy.

Breast cancer usually starts in the inner lining of the milk ducts or the lobules that supply them with milk. From there, it can spread to other parts of the body.

A doctor determines the stage of cancer according to the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

There are different ways to stage breast cancer. One includes stages 0–4 with subcategories at each stage. Below, we describe each of these main stages. Substages can indicate specific characteristics of a tumor, such as its HER2 receptor status.

  • Stage 0: This is also called ductal carcinoma in situ. The cancerous cells are only within the ducts and have not spread to surrounding tissues.
  • Stage 1: At this stage, the tumor measures up to 2 centimeters (cm) across. It has not affected any lymph nodes, or there are small groups of cancer cells in lymph nodes.
  • Stage 2: The tumor is 2 cm across and has started to spread to nearby nodes, or it is 2–5 cm across and has not spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3: The tumor is up to 5 cm across and has spread to several lymph nodes, or the tumor is larger than 5 cm and has spread to a few lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4: The cancer has spread to distant organs, most often the bones, liver, brain, or lungs.

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for healthy aging, visit our dedicated hub.

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The following factors make developing breast cancer more likely, and some may be preventable.


The risk of breast cancer increases with age. At 20 years old, the chance of developing breast cancer in the next decade is 0.06%. By the age of 70, this figure goes up to 3.84%.


A person with certain mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes has a higher chance of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both. People inherit these genes.

Mutations in the TP53 gene also have links to increased breast cancer risk.

If a close relative has or has had breast cancer, a person’s chance of developing breast cancer increases.

Current guidelines recommend that people receive genetic testing if they have a family history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer.

People should also receive this testing, the guidelines state, if there is a history of breast cancer related to BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations in their ancestry. This applies to people, for example, with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

History of breast cancer or breast lumps

A person who has had breast cancer is more likely to develop it again than a person with no history of the disease.

Having some types of noncancerous breast lumps increases the risk of developing the cancer later on. Examples include atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ.

People with a history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer should ask their doctors about genetic testing.

Dense breast tissue

Dense breast tissue is more likely to be associated with a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Read more about dense breast tissue here.

Estrogen exposure and breastfeeding

Extended exposure to estrogen appears to increase the risk of breast cancer.

This exposure could involve starting periods at an early age or entering menopause late. Between these times, estrogen levels in the body are higher.

Breastfeeding, especially for over 1 year, appears to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. This may be due to the drop in estrogen exposure that follows pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Body weight

Obesity after menopause may contribute to a greater likelihood of developing breast cancer, possibly due to increased estrogen levels. High sugar intake may also be a factor.

Alcohol consumption

Regularly drinking high amounts of alcohol appears to play a role in breast cancer development.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), studies have consistently found that women who consume alcohol have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who do not. And those who drink moderate to heavy levels have a greater risk than women who drink less.

Radiation exposure

Undergoing radiation treatment for a different cancer may increase the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

Hormone treatments

Studies have shown that oral contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, the NCI reports.

And according to the ACS, studies have found that hormone replacement therapy, specifically estrogen-progesterone therapy, is related to an increased risk of breast cancer.


As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, breast cancer mortality is about 40% higher among Black women than white women.

Other research has found that African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer than any other group.

The reasons for this are likely biological and socioeconomic. For example, according to a 2021 study, Black women may be more susceptible to developing aggressive breast tumors.

Other research points out that factors such as low socioeconomic status also contribute to cancer racial disparities. Having this status makes it difficult for people from marginalized groups to access quality health insurance, which in the U.S., is often tied to a person’s employment.

A 2020 study on the association of insurance status and the detection of early stage breast cancer showed how difficulty accessing healthcare may be part of the reason why people from marginalized groups often receive breast cancer diagnoses at a late stage, when survival, even with treatment, is less likely.

Cosmetic implants and breast cancer survival

The general agreement, based on research, is that silicone breast implants do not increase the risk of breast cancer.

A 2015 meta-analysis of 17 studies that included participants who had undergone cosmetic breast augmentation discovered no increase in the risk of breast cancer associated with the procedure. In fact, the research showed that the incidence among these participants was lower than expected.

In 2021, another study found that women with cosmetic implants have significantly lower rates of breast cancer than those who do not have them.

Meanwhile, a 2013 meta-analysis found that women who received a diagnosis of breast cancer after getting cosmetic breast implants may have a higher risk of dying from the disease.

However, this research did not factor in other variables that may influence breast cancer mortality, such as body mass index, age at diagnosis, or cancer stage at diagnosis. And at least one of the studies in the analysis looked at overall mortality, instead of breast cancer-specific mortality, thereby potentially skewing the results. As such, a person should consider the finding with caution.

There are several types of breast cancer. The most common type is ductal carcinoma, which begins in a milk duct. Another type is lobular carcinoma, which begins in a lobule, one of the tiny glands that produce milk.

“Invasive” breast cancer involves cancerous cells spreading to nearby tissue. It is then more likely that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.

“Noninvasive” breast cancer remains in its place of origin. These cells may eventually become invasive.

A doctor often diagnoses breast cancer as a result of routine screening or when a person reports symptoms. Below, we describe tests and procedures that can help the doctor make and confirm the diagnosis.

Breast exam

This involves checking the breasts for lumps and other possible indications of cancer.

During the examination, the person may need to sit or stand with their arms in different positions, such as above their head or by their sides.

Imaging tests

Several types of scans can help detect breast cancer, including:

Mammogram: This is a type of X-ray that doctors commonly use during initial breast cancer screening. It produces images that can show lumps or abnormalities. If there is any sign of a potential problem, the doctor usually conducts further testing.

Ultrasound: This scan uses sound waves to help a doctor differentiate between a solid mass and a fluid-filled cyst.

MRI: This combines different images of the breast to help a doctor identify cancer or other abnormalities. A doctor may recommend an MRI as a follow-up to a mammogram or ultrasound. Doctors may also use MRIs to screen people with a higher risk of breast cancer.

Here, learn more about how to prepare for a mammogram.


This involves extracting a sample of tissue and sending it to a laboratory for analysis.

The results show whether the cells are cancerous, and if they are, which type of cancer has developed. The results can even show whether the cancer is hormone-sensitive.

The doctor then stages the cancer to establish:

  • the size of a tumor
  • how far it has spread
  • whether it is invasive

This can provide information about the outlook and the best course of treatment.

The most effective approach depends on several factors, including:

  • the type and stage of the cancer
  • the sensitivity to hormones
  • the person’s age, overall health, and preferences

The main treatment options include:

  • radiation therapy
  • surgery
  • biological therapy, or targeted drug therapy
  • hormone therapy
  • chemotherapy


If surgery is necessary, the type depends on the diagnosis and the person’s preferences. Types of surgery include:

Lumpectomy: This involves removing the tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue around it.

A lumpectomy can help prevent the spread of cancer. This may be an option if the tumor is small and easy to separate from surrounding tissue.

Mastectomy: A simple mastectomy involves removing the breast’s lobules, ducts, fatty tissue, nipple, areola, and some skin. In some types, a surgeon also removes the lymph nodes and muscle in the chest wall.

Here, learn about the different types of mastectomy.

Sentinel node biopsy: If breast cancer reaches the sentinel lymph nodes, the first nodes to which it can spread, it can travel to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system. If the doctor does not find cancer in the sentinel nodes, it is usually not necessary to remove other nodes.

Axillary lymph node dissection: If a doctor finds cancer cells in the sentinel nodes, they may recommend removing several lymph nodes in the armpit. This can prevent cancer from spreading.

Reconstruction: Following a mastectomy, a surgeon can reconstruct the breast so that it looks more natural. This can help a person cope with the psychological effects of breast removal.

The surgeon can reconstruct the breast during the mastectomy or at a later date. They may use a breast implant or tissue from another part of the body.

Find out more about breast reconstruction surgery.

Radiation therapy

A person may undergo radiation therapy around 1 month after surgery. It involves targeting the tumor with controlled doses of radiation that kill any remaining cancer cells.

Learn more about the benefits and adverse effects of radiation therapy.


A doctor may prescribe cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells if there is a high risk of recurrence or spread. When a person has chemotherapy after surgery, doctors call it adjuvant chemotherapy.

Sometimes, a doctor may recommend chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Learn more about chemotherapy here.

Hormone-blocking therapy

Doctors use hormone-blocking therapy to prevent hormone-sensitive breast cancers from returning after treatment. The therapy may help treat estrogen receptor-positive and progesterone receptor-positive cancers.

Healthcare professionals usually administer it after surgery, though they may do so beforehand to shrink the tumor.

Hormone-blocking therapy may be the only option for people who are not suitable candidates for surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy.

Examples of hormone-blocking medications may include:

  • tamoxifen (Nolvadex)
  • aromatase inhibitors
  • ovarian ablation or suppression
  • goserelin (Zoladex)

This type of treatment may affect fertility.

Biological treatment

Targeted drugs can destroy specific types of breast cancer. Examples include:

  • trastuzumab (Herceptin)
  • lapatinib (Tykerb)
  • bevacizumab (Avastin)

Treatments for breast cancer and other cancers can have severe adverse effects. When deciding on a treatment, discuss the potential risks with a doctor and look for ways to minimize the side effects.

There is no way to prevent breast cancer. However, a person can take steps to significantly reduce their risk.

These include:

  • limiting alcohol consumption, for people who drink
  • having a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • getting enough exercise
  • maintaining a moderate body mass index

A person who is considering using hormone replacement therapy after menopause may wish to discuss this with a healthcare professional.

For people with a high risk of breast cancer, preventive surgery is also an option.

The Breast Cancer Healthline app provides access to an online breast cancer community, where users can connect with others and gain advice and support through group discussions. It also classifies survival rates based on how far cancer has spread beyond the breast tissue.

Breast cancer screening

Expert guidelines about how often to have breast cancer screenings differ.

The American College of Physicians recommends that women aged 40–49 years with an average risk of breast cancer discuss the benefits and risks of regular screenings with a doctor.

Women aged 50–74 who have an average risk, the guidelines say, should have screenings every 2 years. Women aged 75 or older should continue with screenings if their life expectancy is 10 or more years.

The ACS suggests that women with an average risk should be able to choose whether to have yearly scans from the age of 40 onward. Regular annual screening should start at the age of 45, and at the age of 55, a woman should be able to decide whether to start screening every other year, these guidelines state.

The American College of Radiologists recommend screenings every year, starting from 40 years of age.

Despite the variations, most experts recommend at least speaking with a doctor about breast cancer screening from the age of 40 onward.

A survival rate describes how long a person with breast cancer is likely to live after the diagnosis, in comparison with someone who does not have the diagnosis.

The NCI currently estimates that about 90% of females with breast cancer survive for at least 5 years after the diagnosis.

It is important to keep in mind that researchers use survival rates to assess large populations. And in calculating this rate, they exclude the risk of dying from other causes.

A survival rate cannot predict an individual’s outlook. No two people necessarily respond to treatment in the same way.

Find more detailed information about survival rates by cancer stage.


Which other cancers are common in women?


Other than skin cancer, the cancers that most often affect women include:

  • breast cancer
  • lung cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • uterine cancer
  • melanoma
  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • thyroid cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • leukemia

Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

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Breast cancer is still a leading cause of cancer death among females. However, the 5-year survival rate is high, and the rate of diagnosis has been largely declining for more than three decades. Having said that, the rates in the U.S. may no longer be declining in women aged 20–39 years.

A person may be able to take steps to prevent breast cancer, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and speaking with their doctor about the best pace of screening, beginning at age 40.

Read the article in Spanish.

Swollen lymph nodes in groin: 9 causes

Swollen lymph nodes are usually a sign of infection. Swollen lymph nodes in the groin can result from viral, bacterial, or fungal infections, including some sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Infections in the feet and some cancers can also affect lymph nodes in the groin.

Lymph nodes are small glands in various places in the body, including the head, neck, armpits, and groin. They are a vital part of the body’s immune system. They trap viruses, bacteria, and other invading microbes. Then, certain white blood cells inside the lymph nodes destroy these invaders.

The lymph nodes in the groin are also called femoral or inguinal lymph nodes.

Most of the time, people cannot see or feel their lymph nodes. However, if the nodes swell, they may be tender and painful. When this occurs, it is usually a sign that the body is fighting an illness or inflammation.

Swollen lymph nodes in the groin may indicate an infection or inflammation near those particular lymph nodes.

In this article, learn about the possible causes of swollen lymph nodes in the groin, as well as when to see a doctor.

Share on PinterestCellulitis, jock itch, and foot injuries may cause swollen lymph nodes in the groin.

Cellulitis is a type of infection that invades the deep layers of skin. There are more than 14 million cases of cellulitis in the United States each year.

The American Academy of Dermatology say that the lower leg or foot is a common site for cellulitis in adults. If the infection occurs in this area, it may cause swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin.

Any break in the skin can cause cellulitis, which may produce the following symptoms near the site of the injury:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • warmth
  • tenderness
  • fever or chills
  • fatigue

Cellulitis can become severe without treatment. People who have symptoms of cellulitis should seek medical attention.

A person can acquire a sexually transmitted infection (STI) if they have sexual contact with someone else with an infection. STIs, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, and HIV, can cause swollen lymph nodes in the groin.

Symptoms of STIs can vary widely but may include:

  • pain, swelling, or itching in the genital area
  • unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • blisters, sores, or warts on the genitals
  • intermenstrual bleeding
  • fever, headaches, or fatigue

Many STIs have no symptoms at all, so people should get regular testing.

Jock itch is a fungal infection that often affects the groin, buttocks, and inner thighs. Along with lymph node swelling in the groin, it can cause severe itching and a ring shaped rash.

Jock itch is a symptom of a ringworm infection. Over-the-counter antifungal creams or powders that treat ringworm often clear it up.

If the rash does not go away with antifungal treatment, it is best to see a doctor.

An overgrowth of a fungus called Candida can cause an infection in the vagina or on the penis.

As with other fungal infections in the genital area, this can affect the lymph nodes in the groin. Other symptoms of a yeast infection include:

  • burning during urination
  • itching and irritated skin
  • foul-smelling lumpy white discharge
  • redness and bumps that may contain pus

Vaginal or penile yeast infections often respond well to antifungal medicines. People should see a doctor for a diagnosis before treating a yeast infection at home if it is the first time they have experienced one.

Cat scratch disease, also called cat scratch fever, is a bacterial infection. A person can get it if an infected cat scratches them and breaks the skin.

Cat scratch disease can also develop if an infected cat licks an open wound on a person’s body.

If this infection occurs on the feet or legs, it may cause swollen lymph nodes in the groin.

Other symptoms of cat scratch disease include:

  • swelling, pain, or redness near the scratch or wound
  • round, raised sores containing pus
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • lack of appetite

Infected cats generally show no signs of illness. Cat scratch disease often goes away over time in people who have a healthy immune system.

It can lead to serious complications in some people, but this is rare.

Bacteria can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bladder infections, leading the lymph nodes in that area to swell. Some other symptoms include:

  • frequent urge to urinate
  • painful urination
  • burning or stinging feeling in the area
  • passing little urine

These infections may sometimes require antibiotics. UTIs can lead to more severe infections if a person does not receive treatment.

If a person gets a cut or blister on their foot, bacteria may enter through the skin and cause an infection. This infection can, in turn, cause swelling in the lymph nodes in the groin.

People who have diabetes or neuropathy may be particularly at risk of getting a foot injury without being aware of it. They should check their feet daily for signs of an injury and avoid going barefoot outdoors.

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection that affects the feet.

People may get the infection from walking barefoot in moist public areas, such as swimming pools and locker rooms.

As the body is fighting the fungus, it may cause swollen lymph nodes in the groin. However, athlete’s foot is not a common cause of this symptom, so a person with swollen lymph nodes in the groin should consider other causes before assuming that athlete’s foot is responsible.

Common symptoms of athlete’s foot include:

  • itching and burning between the toes
  • scaling or peeling of the skin on the feet, especially between the toes
  • swelling of the feet or toes
  • cracked skin or blisters on the feet or toes

In rare cases, swollen lymph nodes in the groin can be a sign of certain types of cancer that affect the area.

The types of cancer may include:

  • testicular cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • uterine cancer
  • melanoma, if it affects the lower body

These cancers may have very few symptoms at first. If a person notices swollen lymph nodes in their groin without an obvious cause, they should see a doctor for an evaluation.

When an infection, inflammation, injury, or other illness affects the body, lymph nodes may swell as they gather the harmful cells and filter them.

A person may be able to feel swollen lymph nodes by gently pressing on the area. They may be tender or painful.

A swollen lymph node in one area can signal that there is inflammation or an infection in that specific area of the body. Doctors refer to this as localized lymphadenopathy.

For instance, swollen lymph nodes in the neck could be a symptom of a cold or the flu. Swollen lymph nodes in the groin are usually a sign that there is an infection or inflammation in the genitals or lower body, such as the legs or possibly the feet.

When more than one area of lymph nodes swell, this is called generalized lymphadenopathy. It may mean that the person has a body-wide infection, impaired drainage, or an immune system disorder.

Examples include:

  • lupus
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • mononucleosis (mono)
  • chickenpox
  • measles
  • HIV

People should see a doctor if they have persistently swollen lymph nodes that do not lessen over the course of a few days, or if the lymph nodes are painful or causing discomfort.

Treatment for swollen lymph nodes depends on the cause. For instance, cellulitis or skin infections usually require antibiotics.

Jock itch or athlete’s foot may clear up with antifungal medicines. If there is no clear cause of an infection, a doctor may run tests for other conditions.

After treating the underlying cause, the swollen lymph nodes will go back to their normal size.

Swollen lymph nodes are not a disease. They are a sign that the body is fighting off an infection.

In most cases, it is best to see a doctor to determine the cause of swollen lymph nodes in the groin. The doctor can recommend the necessary treatment or order further testing to help them confirm a diagnosis.

Inflammation of the lymph nodes under the arm – causes, symptoms and methods of treatment

Inflammation of the lymph node, located in the armpit, almost immediately gives a certain symptomatology. This is an inflammatory reaction, which is accompanied by swelling, and therefore the slightest touch to the lymph node gives a noticeable pain. The disease is called axillary lymphadenitis, and it usually occurs after the patient has been ill with a respiratory disease. If such a complication occurs, the patient should immediately consult a doctor.

Causes of inflammation of the lymph nodes

The most common cause of lymphadenitis is staphylococcal, streptococcal infection, as well as E. coli. If the body is weakened by a large number of pathogenic bacteria, then the lymphatic system simply cannot cope with them. Therefore, there is an accumulation of microorganisms in the lymph nodes, as a result of which they give an inflammatory reaction. Factors contributing to inflammation of the lymph nodes can be considered pathologies of the mammary glands, colds and respiratory diseases, cancer, furunculosis, excessive sweat glands, allergies, intoxication and infections.

It happens that only one node becomes inflamed, and it happens that the inflammation affects several lymph nodes throughout the body. The enlargement of the nodes can be strong enough, as a result of which they become sensitive and painful. The nodes located in the armpit begin to whine, swell, blush. Accompanying inflammation can be general weakness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, vomiting.

Symptoms of axillary lymphadenitis

Inflammation in the regional axillary lymph nodes is isolated, accompanied by catarrhal symptoms and suppuration. Next, the most frequent clinical pictures of axillary lymphadenitis will be presented.

  • Acute catarrhal form. It occurs more often than other forms and usually has a mild course. Lymph nodes in this form of the disease are enlarged, painful, compacted, they are easily separated and do not cease to be mobile. The tissues in the armpit are hyperemic, there is slight swelling. The patient may feel a deterioration in the general condition, slight subfebrile condition and discomfort when moving the shoulder.
  • Purulent form. Such inflammation is extremely dangerous, as it is accompanied by the formation of a purulent focus, consisting of single or multiple abscesses. The node itself ceases to be mobile, soreness and swelling appear. The tissues located near the focus of inflammation are hyperemic, alternative processes or melting may begin. Soldering of inflamed nodes with the skin may also occur.
  • Chronic form of lymphadenitis. This is a common sluggish form of the disease, which is accompanied by inflammation of the axillary lymph node. It occurs when the body is weakened, with a decrease in immunity, with a decrease in resistance to infections. Symptoms of chronic axillary lymphadenitis do not have a pronounced picture: the nodes retain their mobility, but the patient feels a little pain.

Treatment of lymphadenitis

The main thing that the patient should know and consider is the inadmissibility of self-treatment. In no case should you try to stop the disease yourself. Only a doctor prescribes the necessary treatment tactics, and it consists in conducting the correct etiotropic and pathogenetic therapy. As a rule, all the efforts of the doctor and the patient are directed to the elimination of the focus of inflammation, which provoked the development of axillary lymphadenitis. Most often, the doctor prescribes anti-inflammatory drugs and prescribes antibiotic therapy. It is also advisable to use compresses with Dimexide, physiotherapy, immunomodulators. All this helps the body to get stronger and cope with the disease that has arisen. If a malignant process arises and develops and it is accompanied by axillary lymphadenitis, then the patient must undergo a course of chemotherapy or he will be shown surgery.

Armpit enlargement, causes and treatment



Enlargement of the lymph nodes in the armpits

Enlargement of lymph nodes in the armpits is a symptom of the lymphatic system, occurs in response to local and pathological processes in the body, and is characterized by enlargement, induration, and soreness of the lymph nodes. An increase in the lymph nodes of the armpit of any nature is called axillary lymphadenopathy. Accompanies immune and inflammatory diseases, infections, tumor lesions.


Causes of swollen lymph nodes under the armpits

Swollen lymph nodes under the arms is a common sign of axillary lymphadenitis. The disease develops subject to the presence in the body of a primary acute or chronic focus of inflammation. Infection with the flow of lymph, blood or contact spreads in the body, affects the organs of the lymphatic system. Inflammation of the lymph nodes – a pre-morbid condition or a symptom of diseases such as:

  • acute respiratory viral infections;
  • inflammatory processes of ENT organs: tonsillitis, sinusitis, sinusitis, otitis media;
  • infections of the skin and mucous membranes: purulent wounds, stomatitis, actinomycosis, boils, eczema;
  • bacteria, viral infections: diphtheria, mumps, scarlet fever, varicella;
  • dental diseases: pulpitis, caries, osteomyelitis;
  • venereal pathologies: syphilis, gonorrhea.

Among other reasons why enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit area, the following diseases and pathological conditions are considered:

  • dysfunction of the endocrine glands;
  • blood diseases;
  • malignant and benign tumors of lymphoid tissue;
  • axillary metastases;
  • breast cancer in women;
  • contusion in the armpit, chest;
  • diseases of the immune system: dermatomyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus;
  • drug reaction;
  • chronic diseases of the digestive system.

Article checked

Konovalova G. N.

Neurologist • 44 years of experience

Publication date: March 24, 2021

Review date: January 20, 2023

Article content

    Types of armpit enlargement

    Quote from a specialist CMRT

    Ulyanova Daria Gennadievna
    Neurologist • Chiropractor • Experience 24 years

    Quote from CMRT specialist

    Enlarged armpit lymph nodes can be associated with inflammatory or infectious processes, as well as the development of other serious diseases, and therefore requires an urgent visit to the doctor. It is important to take into account the accompanying symptoms and conduct an up-to-date diagnosis, which will allow an accurate diagnosis.

    Ulyanova Daria Gennadievna
    Neurologist • Chiropractor • Experience 24 years

    Methods of diagnosis

    If the axillary lymph nodes are enlarged, it is necessary to contact a lymphologist or phlebologist, or a therapist can be used to establish the underlying disease, the causes of its development. In some cases, you may need to consult an endocrinologist, an infectious disease specialist, an oncologist, a pulmonologist, a mammologist, or a specialist in another field.

    The doctor conducts an external examination, during which he assesses the condition of the skin, size, density, cohesion, clarity of the borders of the lymph nodes in the armpits, the severity of pain on palpation.

    According to the indications, the diagnostic plan includes diverse examinations:

    • laboratory tests: blood and urine tests, biochemical blood tests, bacteriological culture of the material, tuberculin test, diagnostic puncture, biopsy of the lymph nodes;
    • equipment: chest x-ray, ultrasound scan of the lymph nodes of the armpit, mammography, computed tomography of the abdominal cavity.

    Specialists of the CMRT clinics, in order to identify the causes of enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits, prescribe the following studies:

    Which doctor to contact

    Primary diagnosis of the reason why the lymph nodes in the armpits are enlarged is carried out by a therapist. After the diagnosis, he will either prescribe treatment or refer you to a surgeon, mammologist or other doctor with a narrower specialization.

    Treatment of enlarged axillary lymph nodes

    The course of treatment is selected in the case of a particular patient, and depends on the diagnosis. In the early stages and in the non-tumor nature of enlarged lymph nodes, conservative therapy is recommended. To stop infectious and inflammatory processes, to destroy the primary focus of infection, antibacterial drugs are prescribed in accordance with the type of pathogen. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics help to get rid of pain and inflammation, normalize body temperature. Thermal procedures, compresses with Vishnevsky’s ointment, immunostimulants, vitamins are shown.

    In case of a purulent form of lymphadenopathy of the axillary lymph nodes, the patient is hospitalized, the purulent focus is opened, followed by drainage and antiseptics. In the presence of indications and tumor forms, surgical removal of enlarged lymph nodes is indicated.

    In CMRT clinics, to treat the causes of swollen lymph nodes in the armpits, conservative therapy and surgical treatment are used:


    Prevention of swollen lymph nodes under the arms

    Article checked

    Moskaleva V.V.

    Editor • Journalist • Experience 10 years

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